This week, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah attended the Annual Meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) in San Francisco. U.S. universities share a long history of close partnership with USAID, including collaboration on agricultural capacity development activities in the developing world. See below how some of this work is reaching women researchers in Africa.
The majority of those who produce, process, and market Africa’s food are women, yet only one in four agricultural researchers is female. As an agricultural scientist from Mozambique, I am part of a growing movement to increase the number of female researchers who can help respond to the global challenges of food insecurity and hunger.
I completed my MSc degree part-time so that I could stay close to my children and support their studies and development. Now that they have grown up, I am hoping to attain my PhD and am participating in some of the unique programs offered to researchers like me so that we can pursue our long-term goals. For me, that goal is empowering rural women through informal agricultural education that will enhance their lives, the lives of their families, and their communities as a whole.
African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) is a professional development program supported by USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that strengthens the research and leadership skills of African women in agricultural science. As an AWARD Fellow, I am working to improve the livelihoods of those living in my country’s rural communities through the dissemination of agricultural technologies, using innovation platforms for technology adoption in maize and other crops – a method that involves all actors in the value chain – and at the same time testing the use of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes for both humans and livestock. This sweet potato variety helps reduce vitamin A deficiency in children under 5 years old and can improve food security not just in Mozambique, but also throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Its use for livestock can reduce the cost of animal feed, providing additional benefits to smallholder farmers.
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